By COREY PATRICK
YBI Director of Marketing & Communications
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In 2022, the Youngstown Business Incubator had a clear focus – to ensure our programs were living out our slogan of “Elevating Every Entrepreneur” and producing results. Looking at the data, the team has done just that. Rather than adding new programming, YBI stuck to its core as we prepared for a fresh, bold 2023.
Our longest running program, Evolve Technology, had strong performance metrics last year, providing direct assistance to startups focused on business-to-business software, advanced manufacturing and tech-based services. Throughout 2022, the team served 41 client companies, which raised $9.27 million in capital, generating $5.4 million in revenue, with 257 jobs created and retained.
One success story is Aura Beauty, a Youngstown-based subscription service disrupting the press-on nail industry. Aura pitched its idea at YBI Shark Tank, which helped the brother-sister team secure an angel investor to finish building their product. They are now on track for a first-quarter launch.
YBI’s Minority Business Assistance Center built momentum as well. Regional director Stephanie Gilchrist led the team to great results, completing 18 Minority Business Enterprise, Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity and Women Business Enterprise state certifications. Additionally, throughout 2022 the MBAC clients infused $776,500 into the local economy.
One of the companies seeing success from MBAC assistance is Emerald City Construction, a Youngstown-based low-impact green infrastructure company. The MBAC staff assisted the founder, Keland Logan, in preparing materials for certification, resulting in U.S. EPA and MBE certifications. Through a matchmaker event, Keland also earned ODOT cross-MBE certification.
Our Women in Entrepreneurship (WE) and Youth Entrepreneurship programs also saw progress. Ten WE clients were awarded Women Business Enterprise certifications and two clients were awarded service contracts totaling $45,000.
Tanisha Wheeler, director of women and youth entrepreneurship, kept busy creating opportunities for the Valley’s youth by teaching 105 young participants the fundamentals of entrepreneurship across six events. Most notably, students at Kirkmere Elementary participated in The Xperience – a program that uses augmented and virtual reality for career exploration and STEM exposure.
Rounding out core programs is our Advanced Manufacturing Program. Our AM team, led by Stephanie Gaffney, worked tirelessly to enable manufacturers who lack the expertise and capital to evaluate and integrate advanced manufacturing techniques into their operations.
Our dedicated team of engineers has engaged 58 companies into one of their many research projects, giving companies access to over $1.4 million in shared equipment from top organizations in the region including Youngstown State University, America Makes and Humtown Products.
To put this into perspective, YBI portfolio company Vista AST has been part of AMNOW since March 2020 and contributed to the first demonstration project. AMNOW is an America Makes-led program that enabled YBI to get 213 businesses into the U.S. Army’s additive manufacturing supply chain.
As the team looks ahead to 2023, the recurring theme is boldness.
The team is preparing for a brand refresh, additional startup resources and greater impact, both in our local economy and regionally, under the steadfast leadership of CEO Barb Ewing.